Bcc Podcast Episode 1 transcript

 

Shayna:

Hey, I'm Shayna.

Paige:

And I'm Paige.

Shayna:

And this is Bcc.

Paige:

Where we copy you in.

Shayna:

On internet stories.

Paige:

From around the world.

Shayna:

Hey, Paige, what are we talking about today?

Paige:

So today we will be talking about working online, going to school online and all of that. And we have amazing guests, but before we get into that, we'll just do this week's hot topics. So the hot topics are work email etiquette. I personally do not like emails after 03:00 PM, because what can I really do about it at that point?

Shayna:

Okay. I want to like go all the way back-

Paige:

All the way back.

Shayna:

In defining the word etiquette, because etiquette presumes that we have some dignity about the separation between work and personal lives. And I really don't -

Paige:

It all comes back to work-life balance.

Shayna:

It's a struggle. Can I let you know though- that I do have my work email on my phone?

Paige:

No.

Shayna:

But here's the thing though. Why I do it? Let me give you some justification, is because I don't like to sit at a desk all day. That drives me nuts. I need to move. I need to be doing things around my house, where I have an office, because I haven't left the house in a long time, because that's how we work these days.

Shayna:

I want to be able to be a bit mobile, and so having work emails on my mobile phone, allows me to do that, and still be working. Is that a problem?

Paige:

I'm just saying, if it's on my phone, maybe I'm away from the desk for like 20, maybe 30 minutes. I personally don't believe in emergencies at all. I just don't think anything's emergent, for me in my industry. What emergency-

Shayna:

It's not an emergency.

Paige:

So it doesn't need to be on your phone.

Shayna:

For example, if I at 10:00 AM, decide I want to go to a cafe and have a coffee, and I don't want to bring my laptop. I just want to put my phone in my pocket, put on a little playlist, put on my little AirPods, walk down the street to the cafe and sit there, drink a coffee and still be able to email. Is that so wrong?

Paige:

I have a question. We're in a pandemic, what cafe are you going to and sitting?

Shayna:

Outside. On the Terrace.

Paige:

I'm just saying, they got the chairs turned upside down these days. You can't sit inside. Okay. I see where you're coming from. I'm willing to concede, but I personally won't be putting my email on my phone.

Shayna:

Okay. So I do. So then to take it a step further, one of the things that happens when it's on my phone, is that I get this really fancy, automatic email signature, that says, "Sent from my iPhone."

Shayna:

I feel like it's signaling, it's being authentic. I'm being authentic. I'm not at my desk, I'm actually at the café, and so this might be a quick response that doesn't have all punctuation. Maybe the grammar is not correct.

Paige:

So you do that thing that people do where it's like, "This was sent from a phone, so be mindful that punctuations..." that you send that, but just leaving at, "Sent from iPhone," it's chaotic.

Shayna:

But why I do I need to explain all of it? Sent from iPhone just says... Okay. What's an alternative? Let's come up with an alternative, and I'll change it right now.

Paige:

Okay. So you can say, "This email was sent from a mobile device. Be mindful of punctuation and spacing errors. Thank you."

Shayna:

That sounds really aggressive to me. I feel like sent from my iPhone, just is cute and fun, and light and easy.

Paige:

No. Cute and fun is my email signature, "Cheers." It says I'm fun. I don't take my-

Shayna:

Cheers?

Paige:

Yes. It says I'm fun. I don't take myself too seriously. I'm at work having a good time, playing a playlist. Cheers.

Shayna:

But even from your phone?

Paige:

Even from my phone, "Cheers."

Shayna:

Is that different from your work? Like when you're at your desk and sending work emails?

Paige:

I still say cheers internally. Externally, because I want people to think I'm a professional, I say, "Best regards."

Shayna:

I'm going to let you in on a secret. Occasionally, I will sign off with an emoji.

Paige:

Just an emoji? Not even your name?

Shayna:

Just an emoji. It'll be like, thumbs up, comma, Shayna." Like, comma, next line, Shayna.

Paige:

Internally or externally?

Shayna:

It really depends on my mood.

Paige:

I think I'm just hyper aware of being a young, black professional in the workspace. So I'm like, "A thumbs up? Oh my God."

Shayna:

Well, I can appreciate that perspective, Paige. I can appreciate that, and I can make space for that. However, I'm reclaiming myself online. I'm reclaiming my humanity in the digital space.

Shayna:

And the way that I interact with people, is I give thumbs up. I give high fives. That's how I close out conversations with friends. So I can't do that in my email?

Paige:

You can. Now that I've heard that, you can.

Shayna:

But I would be curious to hear what other people are doing.

Paige:

No, please find us on the internet, rather me. You're not really on the internet like that, but find us and tell us what you think about.

Shayna:

Okay. So be mindful of your email signatures, and also don't have your work email on your phone. Apparently, I'm still doing it Paige. I'm still doing it. I will revisit it-

Paige:

Go for it.

Shayna:

And come up with something better than, "Sent from my iPhone."

Paige:

Appreciated. Really, it is, because then it says, "I cared enough to change it."

Shayna:

Okay. All right I'll keep you posted. I'll let you know how that goes.

Paige:

Welcome to the first interview of two, for this episode. In these episodes, we'll be talking about e-learning. So this first interview is with Dr. Ronda Železný-Green. Ronda is the Internet Society's Global Head, Training and e-Learning. She is a mobile technologist, educator and researcher, whose professional experience spans the public, private, and civil society sectors.

Paige:

She also specializes in innovation and educational technology, especially mobile learning, gender training, and government policy advice. Thank you so much, Ronda, for joining me for this chat.

Rhonda:

Sure. No problem. Very happy to be here.

Paige:

All right. So I guess we can start here. Given the pandemic and the global digital shift that everyone has made, can you talk to me a bit about the changing role of digital learning?

Rhonda:

Yeah. When the pandemic hit, and we actually saw everyone overnight, have to pivot to digital learning, and for me, as someone who is an expert in this area, not just from an academic standpoint, but also from a practitioner standpoint, it became a really, really eye opening thing, to see just how quickly decades of research could go out the window.

Rhonda:

So what I mean by this is that. when the pandemic hit and we were obligated to all go online to learn, a lot of the best practices that you would think would have been implemented or instituted, simply were not. And so what we saw was a lot of digital teaching and not necessarily digital learning. A lot of the things that internet access actually opens up in terms of being able to create and share new knowledge, let's say.

Paige:

Thank you. You made a quick distinction between digital teaching, you said, and digital learning. Can you just quickly explain what that difference is?

Rhonda:

Sure. Well, education itself has not actually changed, since really the Victorian era. The way that schools are set up, where it's very teacher-focused and teacher-led, is not what digital learning enables. Digital learning enables people to take learning into their own hands, and to begin with something that is widely recognized as 21st century learning, which is more inquiry-based.

Rhonda:

So as people get curious about different topics, that they take their mobile phone, take their laptop, whatever digital resource they have, and investigate for themselves, and then make connections that enables them to also teach others, which is a process known as scaffolding. And then even to help guide teachers as to what they should be teaching.

Rhonda:

In digital teaching, the role of a teacher remains the same. They are kind of in this authoritarian position, even if they're not authoritarian themselves, but they are the center of attention because they direct everything.

Rhonda:

When you have digital learning, it becomes a responsibility of everyone, to kind of take control and contribute to how their curriculum evolves. And so what we saw... I'm from the United States and I saw my niece and nephew, I mean, they were so bored because it literally put them from school, and put them in a classroom in their bedrooms, where they don't have their friends. They're isolated. And so nothing was done to take advantage of what the web makes possible.

Paige:

Yeah, I can completely agree with that. The last two semesters in my master's program were online, and it was very rigid and strict. And you had to have your camera on, and you felt like you were in a classroom. It just all felt very forced and unnatural.

Rhonda:

Exactly.

Paige:

So the Internet Society recently launched an online learning platform. I've actually checked it out. I've seen a couple of courses on internet governance, encryption and digital footprints. Can you talk a bit more about the e-learning platform, that Internet Society has launched?

Rhonda:

Sure. E-Learning has been around at the Internet Society since 2013. I joined the organization in January of 2020, and when I came, it was clear that what had been done before was a good start, but we needed to take it into the 21st century.

Rhonda:

So when I came on board, we underwent this extensive process to actually speak to the people who would be super users of this platform. So that included my colleagues, other stakeholders within the Internet Society itself. But then it also meant that we reach out to the community.

Rhonda:

And so to do that, I started out small, speaking to the various special interest groups, including the accessibility special interest group, who told me, "You are the first person at the Internet Society to ask us about what we want."

Rhonda:

That was like, "Oh, wow." But for me, it was a personal thing. And then in September of 2020, we also did a survey out to the community, and we had over 3,000 responses come back to us. And so that really helped sharpen... I had a vision in mind of what we could do, that helped to sharpen that vision.

Rhonda:

What's great now, that we have our LMS powered by Docebo. Some of the comments, the feedback that we're getting, is very much from the perspective of, "Oh my goodness. You listened to me. Thank you so much." You hear the tutors and learners alike, just feeling respected because now the new LMS has a lot of the features they have long desired.

Paige:

That's amazing to hear, and I'm glad people are feeling included. And I guess to tie in both our early conversation about how teaching and learning happens online, and to feeling included, I think I've heard a lot of people talk about feeling isolated in their education. I know a lot of people in my master's program felt cheated, because so much of a master's program is interacting with your peers and networking, essentially, especially in a place like Washington DC.

Paige:

In your opinion, how can online learning foster community when community building is so necessary, and people are just kind of in their homes at a computer.

Rhonda:

I think one of the things that a lot of other practitioners have been really good at, is how they can use social media, social networks to teach. And so one of the things that's really understudied, although that's increasingly changing, it's communities of practice that are based on social platforms, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal.

Rhonda:

I think one of the things that we saw was that where people go for social purposes, there was a visible push to force them to not congregate in these areas, and to be in, oftentimes, software or platforms that were developed specifically for school, that people were unfamiliar with, did not care about, were not emotionally invested in.

Rhonda:

And so it was kind of forcing them into a space where life was already miserable for so many, but that just added a layer of misery that didn't need to be there. I'm a big believer of, meet people where they are, and so have long advocated for, when you're trying to, and you can never replicate face-to-face learning, but when you are trying to develop something that is akin to that, that maybe is just as good, if not similar, you really need to be where people are.

Rhonda:

If your students are on BlackPlanet, you need to be there. This is the way that you can bring things into the classroom and use real life circumstances to bring things to life. And I think this also speaks to the fact that much curriculum in education is done in very discreet buckets, and connections, between the different subject matter and things like that, are not readily made.

Rhonda:

And so example of this, if you were going to teach about mathematics, there is a connection to Islam, because Islamic scholars were the first ones who created numbers. So helping make connections that way, I think, is also more easily done when you have the digital learning, because you can just search and do a web quest, which is an old school activity that I think lost its luster, but is really, you know, practicable for what could have been done during the pandemic.

Paige:

And I think people crave that real world connection with what they're learning. They don't want it to feel like it's in a bucket. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for your time and your expertise. I really do appreciate it.

Rhonda:

Sure. No problem Paige. It was a pleasure.

Paige:

Thank you guys for listening, you would have just heard our first interview. And our second interview is with the Diana Mukami. Diana is the Digital Learning Director at Amref Health, Africa's Institute of Capacity Development. Diana has experience in project planning, design, development, implementation, management, and evaluation across the Sub-Saharan African region.

Paige:

Since 2005, Diana has been involved in distance education programs in the public and private health sectors, to strengthen the human resources for health in the region, towards provision for better quality of health services. Amref Health Africa, is a grantee of the Foundation's Emergency Response Program.

Paige:

Our Emergency Response Program provides funding to organizations like Amref, working on projects that utilize the internet to improve lives during or in response to, an emergency situation. With this round of fundings, emergency response being around the COVID-19 pandemic, Amref's project is titled Building The COVID-19 Health Workforce In Africa Through Online Learning.

Paige:

And this set out to expand COVID-19 training for healthcare workers, on their internet based platform, by increasing enrollment by 20,000 healthcare workers in five African countries. I think that's extremely impressive. Diana, thank you for chatting to me today.

Diana:

Great to be here Paige.

Paige:

Can you talk more about your Emergency Response, ER project?

Diana:

Absolutely. And let me start by providing some context to the project. So at Amref Health Africa, we have been advocating for the use of technologies, such as the internet, to increase access to quality education and training, in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, for more than a decade.

Diana:

Why do we do this? We do this because we believe that there is no help without a workforce. Human resources for health or health workers, are a key building block for the health system.

Diana:

At the same time, we have a front seat sitting within the region, and we see the challenges of the health workers in the region face, as they seek to provide life-saving services to the communities that they serve. Some of these challenges include a limited training capacity, for example, using the traditional brick and mortar approach, where they have to go to a classroom.

Diana:

And so in many countries in the regions, governments are unable to meet the demand for training and education of their health workers. There's also a challenge around quick and easy access to on-time knowledge and information. These health workers are many times overworked, especially those that are working in rural and remote areas, where more than 70% of the population in this region, live.

Diana:

And so they often don't have opportunities. To refresh and update their knowledge and skills, which is a real shame because within the health sector, there are always changes that come about with new information, new treatment protocols, new disease vectors, such as a COVID-19 pandemic, and so forth.

Diana:

The other reason why we advocate for the use of technology is that when you look at the developments that have happened in the region over the past decade or so, especially around mobile network coverage, I'll give you a few examples.

Diana:

So for instance, in 2019, reports showed that there was 93% of the global population was covered by a mobile broadband signal. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we had 3G coverage expanding from 63% in 2017 to 75% by 2019, and even more for 4G coverage. And so this presents an amazing or many opportunities, to be able to increase access for our health workers, to get critical information and education.

Diana:

And so while we know that technology can certainly not address all the health challenges, including things like access to commodities, financing and so forth, we have seen the positive and significant impact that the internet and technology can have. I'll give you a few example. So a few years ago in Kenya, we saw an increase of a thousand fold, for access to training for nurses who had previously banked on a brick and mortar approach.

Diana:

So this led to having businesses being motivated by getting better jobs. So they had promotions, getting better pay, and ultimately, being able to provide better quality of services. We had stories from them, starting from resistance to using internet, we had stories from them asking about, "What's a mouse? How do you use a mouse on a computer?"

Diana:

To having them, or having the online learners, performing either the same or even better, than their classroom-based counterparts. So these are changes that we have actually seen, and so we know the power of the internet.

Diana:

In Zambia, we had high school graduates who were able to join the nursing profession by taking online courses. We've also seen changes in policy from different governments that now allow the use of online learning, to train health workers across different regions. At the same time, we're saying that despite seeing these achievements within the health sector, the uptake of online learning is still slower than anticipated.

Diana:

And with the start of the pandemic in 2020, there was an even greater need to find ways to make sure that we provided knowledge and skills on COVID-19 for health workers.

Diana:

So the world was in a panic and these health workers were getting the same questions being asked of them, that they had for themselves; What is COVID-19? How do we deal with it? From their families and from their community and so forth.

Diana:

And so the Emergency Response Grant from the Internet Society Foundation, actually became a lifeline to ensure that these health workers, could access knowledge and information about COVID-19 quickly.

Diana:

Through the grant, we were able to implement a 12-month intervention that was targeting more than 10,000 health workers across the region. We curated relevant training materials around COVID-19 working with the governments, ministries of health in five countries. That's Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Senegal.

Diana:

And we worked with them to adapt these materials, to their context, including translation to French, for example for Francophone Africa. And as the pandemic evolved, we were able to develop even more materials for instance content around mental health, because the pandemic has had such a significant impact on mental health in general.

Diana:

And so really being able to develop these responsive materials that were addressing the different needs. The grant also allowed us to upgrade our lighting platform, which we call JIBU. Jibu means answer in Swahili. We were able to increase access to quality training or health workers.

Diana:

We worked with the ministries who encouraged the health workers to take up the program, we worked with regulatory bodies and this is really critical because as part of the ways of motivating health workers to learn, they need to know that the content is accredited and that they can trust it.

Diana:

And so we saw a lot of health workers taking up courses, telling us stories about how they love them and how they're able to actually implement what they're learning as they continue to serve the communities where they are.

Paige:

No, thank you. That's especially timely. What has been the challenges of implementing an online learning project?

Diana:

There have been a few challenges Paige, so it's not all a rosy picture. And some of these challenges are really to do with access. So when you think about the Sub-Saharan Africa region and the context in which we work, access means actual availability of technology infrastructure, such as the internet, but also access in terms of the cost of the internet.

Diana:

So even in some of the places where it might be accessible in terms of being present, the question of cost is there. And also looking at some of these health workers, looking at what they're paid, looking at the other societal responsibilities that they have, this can many times be a challenge for them. But of course, whatever their challenges, then we also look at, what are some of the solutions?

Diana:

So access varies from country to country. Some countries have better access than others, but even within countries, you will find disparities, for instance, between urban areas and rural areas. And so some of the things that we did or have done in terms of addressing some of these challenges is looking at providing data bundles for health workers, to be able to access materials.

Diana:

We also look at partnerships with telecom companies to be able to zero rate these data bundles, and that was actually particularly easier within the pandemic because everybody felt that this is a challenge that we all need to address. Creating hotspots where a health workers within a health facility for example, are able to then access the learning materials.

Diana:

The other challenge, I think, this is something that many people will recognize, is the question around work-life balance. There's a lot going on and health workers are only human. So when you look at the high workloads that they have, these workloads were actually made worse by the pandemic.

Diana:

So remember that diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, cancer, they do not go away because COVID-19 has come. So, not only do they still have to deal with these challenges, but then they have the pandemic, which was even maybe twice. So they have these high workloads and so finding the time set aside to take an online program, becomes a bit difficult for them.

Diana:

They also have societal pressures. So in the same way that you and I are grappling with the negative impact on the economy, we see, for instance other challenges, other sectors like increased gender-based violence and so forth. They also live in these communities, they're part of the communities and therefore being able to manage this as well as their work, as a health worker and access online learning, that becomes really difficult.

Diana:

We've heard about the info-demic. There is so much information coming at us from all different angles. It's information, it's disinformation, and then you want them to learn. How much can one person handle and be able to actually internalize and apply?

Diana:

And then I think the other thing around that, the other challenge would be around digital literacy. As much as we know how to use computers in general or mobile phones or mobile devices, I think not everybody knows how to use technology to learn online. So how can we invest more in increasing digital literacy so that we make access to online learning much easier. So those are some of the challenges that we see in terms of accessing online learning.

Paige:

Yeah. And in my earlier conversation with Ronda, she brought up some of those same challenges as it relates to just her niece learning in the US as well. So these challenges are universal. You spoke a bit about the successes of the program being implemented in five different countries. The accessibility to francophone folks in Sub-Saharan Africa. What would you say is the major success that you can point to for the project?

Diana:

I see quite a couple. I think that one of the ones we've seen and especially in- I think an emergency response kind of setting is that anything is possible. So when you look at the context in which we work and some of the resistance we had in terms of embracing technology- for instance, in how our governments do their business, a lot of reasons were given to why certain things were not possible, and yet with the pandemic, it really demonstrated that many of the barriers that have for instance, hindered the uptick of online learning are perceived rather than real.

Diana:

And so where there's a will, you're able to actually overcome these barriers and be able to implement these kinds of programs. So we saw for instance governments, ministries of health, regulatory bodies, who are very structured in how they do things, are now being able to reach out to partner more in creating online learning, because they saw the urgency and the need to be able to reach their health workers as quickly as possible.

Diana:

So there's been a notable cultural shift from these key stakeholders in accepting the use of online learning or online platforms for training and engagement. And we feel that this is something that will continue to be felt beyond the pandemic.

Diana:

I think it really does present and open up even more opportunities to do a lot more within the health sector. At the same time also, from the health workers themselves, we saw a leap in terms of the uptake of online learning. We had a platform that had about 17,000 people. We are now at over 50,000 people.

Diana:

So just the fact that we were able to provide this really relevant content, provide this platform that they're able to use an access to materials, we've been able to reach thousands of health workers and what really this translates to is them being able to serve millions of populations in these five countries where they work.

Diana:

So it's a ripple effect, being able to reach these health workers, not just as individuals, but also as people that are serving the communities in which they work. The other one I would mention as well is the increase in appreciation of the power of online learning from the health workers. I did mention they've talked about, “Oh, I can now be able to access accredited content.”

Diana:

“Can I get promoted from having done these courses?” I see mental health as really relevant and so this is really timely. So a lot of appreciative comments and responses are coming up from our health workers, also looking at online learning the equivalent to in-time learning.

Diana:

So this is demonstrated by the fact that we were able to take up COVID-19 courses and provide them to the health workers quickly. And I did mention mental health as one of the emerging issues and we were able to create this mental health in public health emergencies content, and roll it out to the health workers, which was really relevant and they really appreciate the fact that they could quickly access these materials.

Paige:

Thank you. I really appreciate that. I've been excited about this project since reading about it, working at the foundation just to see in real time and hear about in real time that the work that we do is affecting so many people and it's really making an impact. It's really amazing. So thank you so much for chatting with me.

Diana:

Absolutely. Thank you Paige.

Shayna:

Thank you so much for copying me in on those awesome interviews Paige. I thought they were really interesting and had a lot of really interesting points that they brought out about online learning in this particular moment and in this pandemic moment that we're in, but also just thinking about historically, how online learning has evolved, but then also differentiating between online learning and online teaching, which I think is really a critical distinction that Ronda made that I thought was really interesting.

Shayna:

So thank you. I'm wondering what, as a younger person, and probably being closer to a formal school experience than myself, when you were growing up or when you were attending school, were you doing online learning? Was that a part of your school experience?

Paige:

I mean, I also grew up in the Caribbean. I grew up in Jamaica. Most of my education was in Jamaica. I can recall having a laptop. I didn't use computers in school until high school, which in Jamaica would have been 12, 13, 14, for me. And I think it was one specific course and you had a computer lab and then I was able to use a computer there, but then I think moving to the U.S. it was such a dramatic shift because I went to ninth grade in the U.S. and then undergrad, grad school, and everything was so "technology".

Paige:

You sign in, there's this card that you swipe for lunch and you have to put money on there online. So I think having that early experience of just fiddling with a computer by myself made me more adept to being able to then come to the U.S. and learn online.

Shayna:

That's such a unique perspective. In my elementary school, many years ago, back in the nineties.

Paige:

Shook.

Shayna:

Yeah. But we had a computer lab. We did. And we had Macintosh Apple computers. And I remember being so little and looking at the little rainbow Apple on the computer and thinking it was so pretty. It was such a pretty little sticker that was on there.

Shayna:

And it was a giant machine. I couldn't tell you what kind it was. I have no idea. And the screen was black and green and you had floppy disks that you had to put in and we would play games on them like Oregon Trail and things like that. And that's how I learned how to use a computer.

Shayna:

I don't recall, I think the internet itself, actually, I learned at home because we got the internet at home, I think. I don't remember that being at school. I remember learning about the internet at home with more CDs. For some reason, I remember having a CD to access the internet at some point. When I say CD though, what I mean is that there were programs loaded onto CDs that you would then download or load onto your computer, the same way you would do a floppy disc, that would then give you access to "an internet"?

Paige:

How vintage.

Shayna:

I don't know. I don't actually know. And I think this is probably something we should explore at a later date.

Paige:

No, yeah. How did that come about?

Shayna:

Early connections to the internet in the home because I think for a lot of folks that was probably the first place we encountered the internet as we know it.

Paige:

Absolutely.

Shayna:

But anyway, one of the things that I thought was really interesting that Ronda brought up was around using the internet as a tool to exploit real-world connections in learning. And so I think one of the things that she was talking about was, when you're on the internet, you're better able to make sort of interdisciplinary cross-sectional and relational connections inside of learning.

Shayna:

I think the example was around mathematics and making the connection to Arabic and how those things happen. So generally in traditional school settings, and how school has set up, that's not really happening. But when you're doing school online, maybe there are more opportunities to do that. I thought that was a really interesting way to think about that. What do you think?

Paige:

It is. And I was just thinking about that in relation to the question I had for you about our online learning credentials, the same as in-person learning credentials. And you mentioned that and I was like, "Oh wow. Lots of people think learning online, takes away from stuff," and like you just mentioned, Ronda mentioned is, it's adding so much more.

Paige:

Because now you can, in real time, Google quickly and make these connections that in-person learning isn't necessarily giving you those connections. Because I know that before the pandemic, a lot of people looked down on online learning degrees. The bit that Ronda brought up, I think is key that online learning has- it might not have the same advantages as in-person learning, but it has its own benefit.

Shayna:

Yeah. Well, and that they're just very different things, right?

Paige:

Exactly.

Shayna:

And so also how she spoke about that when the pandemic hit, folks who were traditional teachers or teaching in traditional settings in classrooms, really just shifted and tried to do the same thing they were doing in the classroom, but virtually and how that's really tough.

Shayna:

That's really hard to translate that because if you have a room of 30 kids, imagine 30, 2nd graders, you're trying to get them engaged. Personally, in a classroom, that's a huge feat. Imagine trying to do that on a Zoom call. That's crazy.

Paige:

Let's have a moment of silence for preschool teachers or anyone teaching anyone under the age of six online.

Shayna:

Yes. I think one of the things that I think is a big takeaway for me from that conversation that you had was that actually there is a distinction between online teaching and online learning and that there is a distinction. And whether or not that distinction is going away, I mean, I think probably now, as you said, because everybody's got an online degree at this point. If you graduated in 2020 or 2021, you have an online degree.

Shayna:

I think how we think about that, there's a shift culturally and I think that's really important. But then the other thing that Diana brought up and talked about obviously, before you can even be engaging in online learning, is around access and people's ability to connect to the internet. And she was dropping some figures about coverage. 3G coverage in Africa from 2016 to 2019 and how it grew so quickly and it just has really enabled folks on the continent to get connected and be doing stuff online, which is amazing.

Shayna:

The number she was describing, they're talking about 50,000 people have signed up for this platform and are doing these courses. I mean, that's amazing.

Paige:

Yeah. That's a ton of healthcare workers. I was thinking about, when I was having that conversation, was just how many children are being left behind because they don't have access. Especially children that live in rural areas whose parents were probably indifferent to them going to school anyways.

Shayna:

Or even that they just didn't have access to the internet. So even if they wanted to participate in school or learning online, they couldn't because they didn't have access. The other thing that, and I think this parallels what Ronda was saying, but the other thing that Diana was talking about was a term that she was calling in-time learning, meaning that you're responding directly to events or needs or knowledge that's being produced at the moment and that you're able to disseminate that in time and share that information with folks.

Shayna:

And I think that also is a testament to the power of the internet and the types of things that people are able to do that in-time learning is maybe more relevant or a term that I think is nicer than online learning. Online learning versus in-time learning.

Shayna:

And maybe the objective isn't that everybody's online, because we still know that there's so many people without access to the internet, but maybe the objective is that we actually just have in-time learning so that at least people are receiving information in a timely fashion. Information that can help them in their health or in their careers or whatever so that they aren't left behind, even if they don't have access.

Paige:

Yeah. And I think the question of access is, you think about just globally, all of the things that are, anything about who doesn't have access, and I think largely access has been an afterthought. There are a lot of people who do not line in comfortable homes. They do not have internet access. And I think slowly but surely we started to see privilege roll itself out. And you just realized how many jobs were necessary because there was a physical place to be at.

Shayna:

I know. Just to add onto what you're saying, I think in my travels, I did a little bit of traveling in summer, but I did find that a lot of people, in just chatting with people and things like that, who maybe lost jobs that were because of COVID or because of businesses shutting down actually turned to platform-based jobs. So internet platform jobs.

Shayna:

So things like Uber or DoorDash or whatever, what have you, you name it, those jobs are now emerging and are even more relevant in today's economy I think because of that. And I know we're getting way off topic-

Paige:

We are.

Shayna:

So we could always bring it back with the question, “Will the internet make obsolete, the professional teaching?”

Paige:

My gut reaction was no. Absolutely not. And I hope not. I don't think the internet is going to make it obsolete. I think the internet might make it more accessible. You might be able to teach a class in Switzerland and maybe the person who got into the university in Brazil couldn't afford to travel to Switzerland, but they can still participate in the course.

Paige:

I hope that the internet is used for good and not evil. I don't think it's going to replace it. I think it's going to be a nice addition to it, so I hope it doesn't make it obsolete. What do you think?

Shayna:

I hope not, is my answer. I love teachers. I'm who I am because a teacher loved me. I love school and that was always such a happy place for me so I really hope that that always remains and is always a thing. I think it will evolve.

Shayna:

I think the digital skills that we bring to the classroom are going to increase, and the things that we're asking students to learn in the classroom are going to change because of the internet, but no, I think definitely.

Shayna:

And what the actual classroom looks like will be different. I think teachers have a special place in the world and serve a special purpose and they'll be around for a long time.

Paige:

No, I think you're absolutely right. I think that we're social creatures and I think that while things might envolve, the need for a teacher is never going to change.

Shayna:

Cool. Well, thanks so much.

Paige:

Thank you so much you all for listening. Thank you to our guests, Diana and Ronda. Find us on the internet, and also you can send us an email at [email protected]

Shayna:

Thank you to everybody out there listening. I'm Shayna.

Paige:

And I'm Paige.

Shayna:

And this is Bcc. Bcc is supported by the Internet Society Foundation.